My Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS! 100% RECOMMENDED!
“When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.
As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.”
If I could only say one thing about this book, I would tell you that the writing is fantastic. It’s smooth, crisp, and clean, and you’ll fly through the story before you realize it. And for those who have read stories online, through something like fanfiction.net or fictionpress.com, you’ll understand why.
While it would be unfair to wholly attribute Matharu’s writing style to Wattpad, the site where he published The Novice before it was published traditionally, you can definitely see how that kind of serialized writing has both encouraged and supported his wickedly fluid writing style. Each chapter is written with both urgency and importance, and each chapter ends with you begging for the next one, desperate to know what happens next. And it’s perhaps through the critiquing of his online community that Matharu has managed to make his story so effortlessly seamless, a difficult thing to achieve by any means.
If I had to compare The Novice to any other book, I’d have to say it’s most like Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. And while I mean Matharu no offence when I say this, it’s impossible to say you’ve read Eragon and cannot see the similarities it shares with the beginning of The Novice. Both novels open with a boy hunting in the woods; have both have traders soon arrive in their small mountain town way north on the continent despite it being the beginning of a rough winter; they both have an older man tell a story that unknowingly predicts the future of the protagonist (Brom and the Dragon Riders, Rotter and the Battlemages); and both end up with a dragon-like creature that forces them to leave their village. And, of course, they both end up joining a group of like-minded people fighting in a losing war, where presumably they are the only ones that can tip the balance.
Past this point, however, Matharu really blossoms as a storyteller. He takes his dwarves in a different direction than most fantasy authors I’ve read, and I absolutely loved that. His demons and the world they inhabit may remind you of Pokemon or Digimon, or even His Dark Materials, but they are creative and unique all the same (if hard to remember at first–check out the guide at the back of the book if you forget what each kind of demon is!).
But more importantly, let me talk about the characters! Fletcher, our protagonist, is impossible not to root for, and his relationship with his father is both tender and heartbreaking. Silva, the elf girl, is awesome, as is Lovett, one of the professors at the academy. In fact, the entire secondary cast of Fletcher’s friends kick ass; they’re multi-dimensional, intelligent, funny, moving, and motivated, and you cannot keep yourself from rooting for each and every one of them.
Okay, I have to stop here, because if I keep going I’ll end up spoiling something. To make a long story short, this novel is a wild ride from start to finish, with great writing, great characters, and a fantastic ending. And even better–once you’ve finished the book, you can pop over to Matharu’s Wattpad account to read free, extra content, including the prequel and a side story!
So what are you waiting for? Go go go!